Lolham Bridges – Bainton Pits

John Clare described the road that now runs north to West Deeping from Helpston, across nine bridges and over two railway crossings in his poem The Flood

On Lolham Brigs in wild and lonely mood

I’ve seen the winter floods their gambols play

Through each old arch that trembled while I stood

Bent o’er its wall to watch the dashing spray

In Clare’s time some of the land around Lolham Bridges would have been one of the three open fields of the pre enclosure agricultural system and would have been regularly flooded in winter, but the seven lakes that now make up Bainton Pits, to the west of the road, were only created in the last forty years as a result of gravel extraction.

With the completion of gravel extraction, Bainton Pits has now become an important wildlife site. It is home to large numbers of wintering duck, including wigeon, goldeneye, pochard and occasionally smew; over 200 plant species, including five orchids, and 32 lichens, 2 of which are found no where else in Cambridgeshire.

Kingfishers breed here and signs of otters [click to hear] are frequently reported. In the summer nightingales [click to hear] sing from the scrub land and from the more established hedgerows and hobbies hawk for insects over the ponds. Sedge warblers too are a common summer visitor – their distinctive and loud song can be heard from around the site [click to hear].

Bainton is a good place too to see two species of local bat – Daubenton’s which can be seen hunting low over the surface of the main pit at dusk and Noctule, a large, high flying bat, frequently stooping in pursuit of its prey.

Access to Bainton Pits is restricted to members of Bainton Fisheries only.